Saturday, October 20, 2007

A söchtener Reuter möcht i wern, wie mein Voater gwen is

One morning in the year 1828, as the sun came over the town square of Nurnberg, a teenaged boy was seen standing motionless in its midst, holding out a letter.

In the letter was a request that the good people of Nurnberg take care of the chap, Since he's been held in complete isolation since infancy and has not even the ability to speak. His name was Kaspar Hauser, as is known to all who've watched the beautiful Werner Herzog film: "Every Man for Himself, and God Against All", which is based on this true story.

Hauser was the victim of atrocious and bizzare abuse. The hand that wrote the letter was possibly also the hand that held him prisoner, and the one that murdered him, a few years later, with an ax. It isn't true, however, that he could not speak at all. He could say this one sentence, in a heavy South German dialect: "I want to be a gallant rider like my father was before."

No one is quite sure to this day what this sentence means. To me, tonight, it means a lot. See, I can't even say that. I am completely mute following my surgery, running a one man vipasana workshop in the midst of a very talkative town. I walk around with a little notebook trying to convey my needs. I confuse my friends, not all of whom know how to handle my situation. Strangers are convinced I'm hearing impaired, and the many pretty women of Tel-Aviv are generally unapporachable to me until I heal, in a week or so.

In such a situation, one just wants to yell something out, to make a statement in bold red type. This is why I put Kaspar Hauser's inimitable phrase as a title over this text. Let this be my message to the world, I want to be one too.


Ariela said...

I wonder if you've since been more attuned to other ways of communicating such as body language, facial expressions, tones, grunts and the like. I hope the healing is moving along smoothly.

Yuval said...

I certainly have. I have myself become more physical, touching people to convey ideas and feelings, to call their attention, to say hello and goodbye. It's a hell of an interesting experience and I'm not neccesarily that sick of it yet.

What sticks out most is actually the impatience of others. People expect you to pick up one end of a conversation, when you fail to do so, they become aggrevated, regadless of the fact you're obviously struggling with some dumb notebook.

If ever you're with a friend who is in such a situation, tell a lot of stories and ask a lot of yes/no questions. Posting blog comments is another wonderful thing you can do - and just did. Thanks for the good wishes!

Plonit said...

Have you read "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" by Jonathan Safran Foer? The beginning of the story tells about a man that lost his words, he walks with a notepad to communicate and even tattooed the words "YES" and "NO" on each of his palms (I wonder why he chose these words that after all can be communicated by head nods).

Just though it could be interesting for you to read in your situation.

And one practical advise: once my husband lost his voice for three evenings, he just moved his lips slowly (can you? I'm not sure what your operation was about)and I said out loud what he was saying. If I got it wrong he would nod for "no" and repeat it. You would be amazed how clearly I could read his lips. This was helpful for both of us.